By Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Carla Gomez,
and Christine O. Avendaño
BACOLOD CITY — The League of Provinces of the Philippines and neighbors of Guimaras province on Wednesday gave the oil slick-hit province 6.5 million pesos at a meeting of the governors of the Visayas at the Negros Occidental provincial capitol in Bacolod City.
The governments of Aklan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Capiz and Iloilo gave 200,000 pesos each to the stricken province, while the League of Provinces of the Philippines gave 500,000 pesos.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who told Gov. JC Rahman Nava that the grief of Guimaras over the oil spill devastation is shared by Cebuanos, gave 5 million pesos in aid.
“That is the beauty of the Visayan governors who are very solid and very close. We cooperate and support each other. If there were federal governments already we would be ready for it,” Antique Governor Salvacion Zaldivar-Perez said.
The Visayan governors also passed a resolution calling on Petron to hasten the cleanup of the M/T Solar I oil spill off the coast of Guimaras, Negros Oriental Gov. George Arnaiz said.
As this developed, Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said Thursday his department will embark on a program to bring back tourists to Guimaras, which caters mostly to domestic tourists, in three months’ time.
A 220-kilometer-stretch of Guimara’s coastline has been swamped with oil from the sunken tanker Solar 1 but its western coast has escaped the ravages of the oil spill.
“Upon the instructions of the President, we are undertaking a program just for Guimaras so that domestic tourism traffic will return there,” he told reporters in Malacañang after attending President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s round table discussion on the promotion of central Philippines as a super region.
The western side of Guimaras is where 17 of the island’s 24 beach resorts are located, and all are untouched by the August 11 oil spill that was caused when the tanker, carrying two million liters of oil, sank in bad weather off Guimaras.
Durano said that the minute the Department of Environment and Natural Resources certifies the seven affected beach resorts as cleared of toxins from the oil spill, the DoT would include them in its promotion of the island.
The DENR had been given until next week to complete its testing of waters in the seven affected beach resorts.
(For the full stories, click INQ7.net, Aug. 31, 2006.)